Death Penalty in California is Very Costly

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, housing an inmate in California's corrections system costs an average of $34,150 per year, though that figure is higher for those on death row or serving a sentence of life-without-parole. In capital cases, a more expensive investigation and prosecution process, as well as long and complicated appeals, raises the costs significantly. Only about 1% of homicides in the state are tried as capital cases, but those cases cost taxpayers two to three times more than non-capital cases. Critics of the death penalty argue that the money spent on death sentences would be better spent on police, mental health and child abuse prevention than on executions. "To spend so many millions of dollars on such a small number of capital trials really doesn't make much sense," said Lance Lindsey of Death Penalty Focus.

The News-Sentinel's investigation revealed the following facts and figures for California:

$7.4 billion: 2006-07 budget for the California Corrections Department.
$250 million: Average cost of 11 executions in 27 years.
$114 million: Costs of death penalty to taxpayers (annual).
$34,150: Average annual cost of housing an inmate in state prison.
9,000: Average number of pages of court transcripts in capital cases.
645: Inmates on death row.
$200: Cost of lethal injection chemicals.
49: Average age at time of execution.
33: Death Row inmates who died of natural causes.
17.5: Average time spent on Death Row.
13: Inmates executed in California since 1978.

(Lodi News-Sentinel, March 11, 2006).  See Costs and Life Without Parole.